While I was facilitating a discussion about race this week it came up that some people “didn’t want to get into it” because black people are “always so angry.”
There’s a lot to address in that statement. I chose to see it as an open door and put aside any discussion of white privilege. Instead, I raised the concept of anger being a response to repeated pain. If the injury is familiar, if it happens over and over – sometimes every day – when it happens again, its possible the response is anger.
I always hesitate to respond too quickly to racial events in the news for two reasons: first, because I want to be thoughtful and not throw gasoline on any fire, and second, because current events take a few minutes to evolve even in our instant world.
I have my personal reaction to the actions of Baltimore mom Toya Graham, but I’m more concerned with the way the narrative about her is shaped to match the agenda of politicians and talking heads all over the political landscape.
How we get our information, what bubble we choose to live in, impacts our ability to process in the present, as well as in the future history books. And even Howard Zinn sometimes left things out.
I am still thinking. And watching. And reading. And processing.
In the meantime, I found Claire Potter’s perspective to be very worthwhile. On the heels of our daughter remarking today, “Why are you guys always talking about such depressing things every morning?” this sentence hit me hard – “because I grew up to study violence, and race, as historical phenomena, I have access to even better informed despair than I did as a child.”
I may have to buy her book Doing Recent History.
Read her blog post Teaching Baltimore, Teaching the History of American Violence.